About Me

Dental Health and Food: Learning to Eat Better

My intense love for candy, cakes, and everything in between started as a child. I simply couldn't go one day without something sweet to eat. But my love for all things sweet took a toll on my teeth. My dentist diagnosed me with seven cavities, each one a different size and depth. After sitting through four long dental appointments, I decided to make a change. I now monitor my diet and only eat things that benefit my oral health. I'm here to help you take better care of your teeth. My blog offers tips on how to improve your diet, maintain good oral hygiene, and many other topics. Hopefully, you can learn to overcome your bad habits just as I did. Good luck with your future dental health.


Latest Posts

Dental Health and Food: Learning to Eat Better

5 Things Parents Need To Know About Herpetic Gingivostomatitis

by Eric Bailey

Herpetic gingivostomatitis is a painful infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus, the same virus that is responsible for cold sores. It usually affects children between six months and five years old, but older kids can also suffer from it. Here's what parents need to know about it.

How does the herpes simplex virus spread?

People who are already infected with herpes simplex shed the virus into the air around them, even when they're not showing any symptoms. If the virus comes in contact with your child's mucous membranes, such as their eyes, nose, or lips, they can become infected. It can also spread through broken skin such as cuts or scrapes.

The virus spreads well when kids are in close contact with each other, such as at schools or day care centers. Young children tend to touch their mouths often, put toys or other objects in their mouths, and share cups with other kids. Any of these behaviors can allow the virus an entry into their bodies.

What are the signs of herpetic gingivostomatitis?

Herpetic gingivostomatitis causes a wide variety of symptoms. If your child has this infection, you may notice some or all of these signs:

  • Ulcers on the inside of the cheeks
  • Red, painful gums
  • Severe gum swelling that covers the surfaces of the teeth
  • Gums that bleed with slight pressure
  • Bleeding and scabbed gums
  • Fever
  • Cold sores at the corners of the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Stiff neck and headache
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat

Why do young kids get this condition instead of a cold sore?

When some kids are first exposed to the herpes simplex virus, their immune systems aren't able to fight it very well. This allows it to cause serious symptoms when it first enters their bodies. The virus will become dormant once they recover from herpetic gingivostomatitis, and when it recurs later in life, it will typically cause only a cold sore. 

How common is herpetic gingivostomatitis?

The herpes simplex virus is very common, and as many as 90% of people will have been exposed by the time they reach adulthood. In all likelihood, your child will be one of them, but this doesn't mean that they'll definitely get herpetic gingivostomatitis. This infection only affects about 1% of kids who are newly infected with herpes simplex.

Can it spread to the rest of the family?

This infection is very contagious and can easily spread to other children in your home or even to you, if you haven't yet been infected with the herpes simplex virus. Don't touch your child's gums or mouth without wearing gloves, and make sure to wash your hands after caring for them to avoid spreading the virus to yourself or your other children.

Can it be treated?

Herpetic gingivostomatitis can be treated with antiviral medications. These are given either orally or intravenously, and they work by keeping the herpes virus from replicating. 

Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also be helpful for children with milder cases of this infection. In more serious cases, your dentist may prescribe a lidocaine cream to numb the affected areas of the mouth.

In some cases, children with this infection need to be hospitalized. This can happen if they have very serious pain, a very high fever or are refusing to eat or drink anything due to their painful gums. The hospital will then give them intravenous fluids and narcotics.

Herpetic gingivostomatitis is a painful infection that affects young children, but it can be treated. If you think your child has this infection, take them to your pediatric dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment.